A minor girl was married off by her father to a 25-year-old man in Greater Noida two months ago, allegedly so he could pay off a debt. On Sunday night, the girl’s mother eventually lodged a case with police. “An FIR has been filed under sections 9 and 10 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. We have arrested the child’s father, husband and the mediator who facilitated the marriage,” said SHO of Surajpur police station, Manoj Kumar Pant. The mother claims the mediator, Vinod, used to supply milk to the family and suggested the marriage when he heard of their financial problems.
The family said the girl was married into an agricultural family from a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district.
Pointing to a scar on her chest and some marks on her right forearm, the girl, reportedly aged 11, said, “I used to be beaten up, forced upon sexually and locked in the house. They made me work in the field, look after livestock and do all house work. My parents had sent me to their house with a phone, but they took it away and broke the SIM card, telling me that I wouldn’t be allowed to meet or speak to my family.”
The girl’s mother claimed she was 11 at the time of the marriage. The family lives in the backroom of a run-down roadside dhaba run by the mother, while the father drives a mini-truck. The family of five — including the girl’s two younger siblings — have always been hard-pressed for money, which the mother claims was compounded when the father got into a disagreement with his employer.
“My husband had been working for around three months as a mini-truck driver, and was being made to work day and night at odd hours. When he confronted his employer about the work conditions, he was dismissed from work and told to pay back Rs 12,000. The employer threatened to attack the children if we didn’t pay,” she said.
She said that when Vinod came to deliver milk to their eatery, he overheard them talking about their problems. “He said that he knew of a wealthy family looking for a bride, and that their debt would be taken care of,” said the woman.
The wedding took place in Surajpur in May. “I was opposed the wedding from the start, but my husband pushed for it. When I realised I wasn’t even being allowed to contact her, I went to Bulandshahr to file a complaint with the Aurangabad police station, but was told it would have to be lodged at the place where the wedding took place… So, I approached this police station,” she said.